Russian startup launches scam-free dating service using facial recognition

Catfishing — the practice of fabricating online identities to lure people into deceptive romantic relationships — has been inherent to online dating and social networking since these even appeared. These romantic scams are not only the cause of numerous sentimental disappointments, they have also led many users to dreadful experiences.

The issue is so widespread that it was depicted in a film, “Catfish” (2010), which in turn inspired a reality-based TV show in the USA.

Experienced Internet users know usually know to spot a catfish, from remembering a few tips when dating online, to using online services that verify identities. But a Russian startup dubbed ‘Chatto‘ claims to have found an even more radical way to flush out catfish from online dating.

Launched last month, the Chatto dating app uses a facial recognition algorithm to determine if a smartphone user is cheating when posting an avatar.

“Since a Chatto profile cannot be created without a photo, catfish will not be able to post fake pictures,” Chatto founder Mikhail Shershnev explained in an exchange with East-West Digital News.

A side-effect of the face recognition check is that, conveniently, Chatoo users do not have to enter a phone number or an email address when registering, or to activate their profile through other social networks. They can start chatting straight away once they have uploaded their picture to the profile.

Shershnev claims that Chatto is the first dating app worldwide to use such a face recognition system. An an additional security feature, all user data is encrypted and stored on external servers, he says, “which means hackers cannot access them.”

Founded just one year ago, Chatto is now registered in Portugal with part of its team still based in Russia. It has been funded by Shershnev himself without any external investment. “And I don’t intend to do that,” says Shershnev.

The app has been made available on Android and iOS in Russian, English, German, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese and Korean languages. A few weeks after launch, 44% of Chatto users were from Russia, but almost as many came from the UK, Italy and France, and 12% from the USA.

“This summer we are going to develop our presence on Western European markets; then we’ll conquer Asian markets,”says the Russian entrepreneur.

See the full scoop over at East-West Digital News: